Winter soup

Winter soup

Ribollita

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

This is a winter minestrone made with the dark, robust leaves of cavolo nero, a native Tuscan kale. We had this soup with our friend, Franca Buonamici, from Lucca, and drank it with the neighbour’s homemade red wine. It was a wonderful combination and quite touching to know that it dates back centuries.

Using three different cabbages is not strictly necessary but you would be surprised how their flavours differ. The white cabbage is quite sweet against the bitter kales. This is a dish that can change completely according to what vegetables you have available, what is growing in your 'orto' (vegetable garden) or what you have in the back of the fridge (you can add the chopped leftover vegetables from a stock into the soup, too – nothing goes to waste in a Tuscan kitchen). The soup can be eaten after cooking but traditionally it is left for a day then layered with saltless spongy Tuscan bread and cooked again. It is often served with a spring onion: I find this a little overpowering, but the choice is yours!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the soffritto

Quantity Ingredient
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 large red or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly squashed
1-2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
large handful parsley, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary, (optional)

For the soup

Quantity Ingredient
250g potatoes, cut into 2 cm dice
250g white cabbage, shredded
400g raw cavolo nero leaves, roughly chopped
75g curly kale, tough stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped, (optional)
1 litre Poached chicken & chicken stock
250ml bean cooking water or more stock
250g cooked cannellini beans

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
6 large slices tuscan-style crusty bread
1 garlic clove, peeled
6-8 spring onions, roughly chopped, (optional)
good-quality olive oil

Method

  1. Cook all the soffritto ingredients for the soup base together for 10–15 minutes in a large stock pot over a low heat until soft. Add the potatoes and shredded white cabbage and cook over a medium heat until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the cavolo nero and kale to the dish and stir through.
  2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through. Divide the cannellini beans in half and add one half to the soup. Purée the other half with a stick blender, then add this to the soup too. Cook for a further 10 minutes or so to warm the beans through. Taste and season as necessary. If desired, serve straight away, or let the soup cool before transferring to the fridge if keeping overnight.
  3. If you are serving the soup in the traditional Tuscan way, preheat the oven to 180°C. Toast the bread until lightly crisp, then rub each slice with the garlic clove. Pour a layer of the soup into an ovenproof serving bowl, top with a few slices of bread followed by another layer of soup. Repeat until the bread and soup is used up. Cook in the oven for 20–30 minutes or until the soup is piping hot and the bread has soaked up the juices. Serve warm with spring onions, if using, and a swirl of your best olive oil.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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